Principles of Learning

Learning principles are the proving guidelines in the learning process. The application of these principles assists managers, training instructors and individuals working in the organization to gain knowledge of how to learn and get its benefits to influence behavior. The major principles of learning are as follows:
  1. Principles of Reinforcement: Reinforcement is the attempt to develop or strengthen desirable behavior by either bestowing positive consequences or withholding negative consequences. Positive reinforcement results from the application of a positive consequence following a desirable behavior. Bonuses paid at the end of successful business years are an example of positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement results from withholding a threatened negative consequence when a desirable behavior occurs. For example, if the boss imposes a penalty on an employee for coming late is an example of negative reinforcement. 
  2. Principles of Punishment: Punishment is yet another way of changing human behavior. It is inverse of the reward. The purpose of punishment is to eliminate or weaken an undesirable behavior. It is done in two ways. One way to punish a person is through the application of a negative consequence following an undesirable behavior. For example, a football player who is excessively offensive to the referee in the football ground (undesirable behavior) may be rejected from the game (negative consequence). The second way to be used to punish the person is through the withholding of a positive consequence following in undesirable behavior. For example, a sales representative who makes few visits to companies and in turn, make sales below quota (undesirable behavior) is given less commission (positive consequence).
  3. Principles of motivation: Whether it is learning in the classroom or workplace, if people themselves are not sufficiently motivated to learn for goal achievement and development, there will be no productivity, career development and other forms of development. However, one can not be forced to learn. Learning needs motivation on the part of the learner in order to exert a high level of effort.
  4. Principles of practice: The most useful way to learn is implicit learning i.e. the experiential way we acquires information about relationships in the environment without any conscious attempt to do so. Implicit learning occurs when we directly interact with the environmental forces, competitors, customers, supervisors and so on. One popular form of practice learning is action learning.
  5. Principles of feedback: There is a set of feedback rules to enhance learning. Examples are, be specific, non judgmental, express your own feelings etc and so forth. With the application of these sets of effective feedback, one can learn in the organization too.
  6. Principle of Generalization: The principle states that the learned behavior should be generalized i.e. to respond of two different stimuli in a uniform manner. Learners must transfer what they have learned to actual working environment if not such learning would be useless for the individual as well as for the organization. For example: the skill learned by an employee in training workshop has to be generalized at actual work floor.
  7. Principle of Learning Practice: The principle states that learning beings rapidly then plateaus. It states that at the beginning phase of learning, the learning is at faster rate, then as the time increases, the rate of learning will decline until a plateau is reached.
Learning principles are the guidelines that help a manager to gain maximum efficiency in a learning situation. These guidelines are to be applied in content of the task and the level of the person. These principles are:
Principles of Learning
1. Knowledge of Results
The knowledge regarding one’s own performances is an essential condition for learning. This feedback of performance enables the learner to know where he stands and to initiate corrective action if any deviation from the expected goals has taken place. In practice a trainee without information will usually try to generation his own knowledge of results that is select a goal he thinks is, correct and adjust his performance accordingly.

2. Meaningfulness of the Subject
A definite relationship has been established between learning and meaningfulness of the subject learnt. More meaningful the material, better would be the learning. Acquisition of nonsense syllabus proceeds more slowly than that of prose or poetry. On a broader scale, a programme of learning where each task makes meaning, trainers do have a certain techniques that are meaningfulness for trainees.

3. Schedules of Learning
Schedules of Learning seem to be true both for simple laboratory task and for highly complex tasks. Actually, schedules of learning can be manipulated in following three different ways as:
  • Duration of practice session,
  • Duration of rest session, and
  • Positioning of rest session

4. Motivation
Motivation is something that moves a person to action, and continues him in the course of action initiated. Motivation is related in several ways to learning. The extent to which valued rewards follow high performance, for example, will affect an employees’ willingness to work hard in the future, and the cause and effect linkage needs to be clear. That is, employees should recognize that certain behaviors (such as hard work) cause certain outcomes (desired rewards). Similarly, if rewards do not follow performance, the employees may be less inclined to work had in future.

5. Reinforcement
Reinforcement is the fundamental condition of learning. Without it, no measurable modification of behavior takes place. The term reinforcement is very closely related to the psychological process of motivation. It may be defined as anything that increases the strength of response. Reinforcement strategies can be employed by managers to influence the behavior of employees viz,
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Extinction, and
  • Punishment

6. Learning Curve
Learning is a continuous process. The principle of learning curve involves the time factor and the repeated efforts in order to gradually increase the strength of the response. This especially true when the behaviors to be learnt are comparatively complex such as skills that are learnt and improved by practice. For example, a person who wants to learn typing would execute awkward strokes in the beginning, but under guided supervision, time and conscious repeated efforts, the skill is improved and as the person gains confidence, the rate of typing speed increases until a maximum rate possible for him is reached. The limiting factor may depend upon motivation, co-ordination or other physical constraints. This means that as the practice time increases, the degree of skill also increases. However, the rate of increase in the degree of skill is higher in the beginning but decreases with time until it reaches zero and the person has obtained the maximum skill.

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